James Tao, a rising senior at IMSA from Hoffman Estates, was one of six Americans selected to represent Team USA in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Tao will compete on the 23rd and the 24th of July in Santa Marta, Columbia, against 600 of the world’s most talented students, representing more than 100 countries.
Tao’s success in mathematics competitions this year led to his selection for this elite team; In February he took 1st place in the prestigious Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament against 1000 elite math students, and in March he placed third overall at the Romanian Master of Mathematics competition, leading Team USA to a gold medal.
Dr. Michael Keyton, who worked with Tao in his independent study this year, spoke highly of him: "James is a rare student of mathematics who looks at generalizations of solutions rather than details of particular problems. His interest far exceeds competitive mathematics, and he is one of the few students I have encountered who investigates as well as solves in the mathematical realm."
Held annually since 1959, the IMO is the premier international pre-collegiate math competition, which consists of six-problems that teams solve over two days, worth a total of 42-points. The competition, according to the Mathematical Association of America, features problems taken from topics that include combinatorics arguments and identities, graph theory, probability, number theory, complex numbers in geometry, and combinatorial and advanced geometry.
Tao and the other Team USA members will spend two weeks this summer training at the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where they will practice the kind of problems that they will be tested on at the IMO.